If there’s any milestone in the civilized world that garners more attention than potty training, I haven’t found it yet. Everyone has some advice to offer. Everyone has a timeline for when it should happen.
Everyone can tell you all about how you’re doing it wrong.
Personally, I put potty training up there somewhere in the fifth circle of Hell. The wrathful section, that is. Parents and children caught in a never-ending struggle for supremacy. And anyone who’s danced the potty-training tango can tell you that this time, you're not the one holding the cards.
The mini-tyrants are the ones with the power.
If you’re going to start potty training, you HAVE to understand that one little fact. You aren’t the one that holds the power in that relationship. You can beg, cajole, blackmail, bribe and plead. That doesn’t mean that your little tycoon-in-training is going to kick those diapers to the curb one millisecond sooner than when they’re good and ready.
Three frustrating rounds of potty training later, I know. Oh, do I know. My eye (and the rest of me) still twitches violently every time I think about it.
So they hold the power, but if you’re going to get them out of diapers sometime before Kindergarten you have to take the reins. How the heck do you balance that?
Follow the Signs
Potty training success relies almost exclusively on your ability to tell when their objectives and yours are in the same century. You have to recognize the signs, none of which are as obvious as running through the hallways holding a pair of clean underwear and shouting, “Hasta la vista, diapers!”
So when MIGHT they be ready? Keep an eye out for any and all of the following:
Sneaking into the bathroom and playing with the toilet. (Flushers. Keep an eye out.)
Taking off wet/poopy diapers on their own.
· Telling you when they need a diaper change.
· Willingly sitting on the potty. Reading a book, playing games. Kids who aren’t ready to potty train will fidget or run screaming in the other direction.
· Lusting after big-kid underwear. The more they want it, the more they’re willing to work for it.
Be Willing to be a Sunday Driver
It’s tempting to jump all over your kids the minute they start showing the signs. This is one of those times where it pays to be a Sunday driver. Pushing your kids too far, too fast is going to put you farther back than you were when you started.
Move slow. Follow their lead. If you find that they’re digging in and rebelling, put potty training on ice.
Sometimes a three to six month break is all you need. Come back to it.
Let them be the boss. It’s worth it in the end.